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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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What is the symbolic meaning of the Latin and Greek origins of Atticus's name?

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Harper Lee must have done a little research before naming the gentlemanly philosopher Mr. Finch in her novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. The name Atticus, though unusual today, has had its share of famed namesakes in the past. Perhaps the most famous of history's Atticuses was Titus Pomponius Atticus (112 B.C. - 35 B.C.). A member of the upper crust of Roman society, he is best known as the closest friend of the philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero, and he came from a well known Roman family. It is believed that Miss Lee based her character on this Atticus. Other famous people with the name Atticus includes:

  • The Platonist philosopher Atticus
  • Herodes Atticus, a Greek rhetorical speaker
  • Atticus, a Christian martyr who died in 310 A.D.
  • Archbishop Atticus of Constantinople (406 - 425 A.D.)

There is also a genus of moth named Atticus.

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I did not know what the Latin and Greek origins of Atticus were, so I used an online baby book to look them up.  I am hoping the meanings I found correspond to yours.  First, let's look at the Latin meaning.  In Latin, Atticus is a form of the word "itself".  I believe this is symbolic to the character of Atticus, because he always stands up for what is right, regardless of what everyone else thinks.  If an idea or action compromises his morals, Atticus simply won't do it.  He is constantly telling his children that they must stand up for what they believe in, even if they stand alone.  Atticus is also a derivation of "Attica", who was an ancient Greek philosopher and writer.  I think it can be argued that Atticus, from To Kill a Mockingbird, is one of the wisest "philosophers" found in literature.  Like any good philosopher, Atticus is not afraid to teach and show others about things such as virtue and morals.  I hope this helped.

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